John vs. Hugh

10 Banned Talk Show Guests, From Hugh Grant to Madonna and More

Jon Stewart says Hugh Grant will never appear again on The Daily Show. From Madonna to Kathy Griffin and Jay Leno, see other unwelcome guests.

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Getty Images (3)

Jon Stewart says Hugh Grant will never appear again on The Daily Show. From Madonna to Kathy Griffin and Jay Leno, see other unwelcome guests.

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Hugh Grant

During a recent interview with Stephen Colbert at the Montclair Film Festival ++Jon Stewart revealed that Hugh Grant was the worst guest he has ever had on The Daily Show. “And we have had dictators on,” Stewart added, saying Grant will never be invited back. “He’s giving everyone shit the whole time, and he’s a big pain in the ass.” And when Stewart aired a clip from Grant’s latest movie during his last appearance, the actor responded, “What is that clip? It’s a terrible clip.” Stewart parried, “Well, then make a better fucking movie.”

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Even before his talk show aired on CNN, Piers Morgan announced that he would ban certain guests, beginning with Madonna. Morgan later upped the stakes by tweeting that she wasn’t welcome on his U.K. talk show either. Also on the banned list is Heather Mills, whom Morgan regrets introducing to Paul McCartney (“I realized I'd pushed one of the world's great golddiggers in the direction of one of my heroes," he told The Hollywood Reporter. and Keith Olbermann—“just because it would really annoy him."

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Piers Morgan

As retaliation for Piers Morgan banning her friend Madonna from his CNN show, Rosie O’Donnell  told Access Hollywood that Morgan would be the one celebrity not allowed on her talk show on OWN: “Only because he banned Madonna for no real reason when his show started.” By the next year, however, the two had made up from their mock feud, and O’Donnell even guest hosted Morgan’s program.

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Kathy Griffin

Comedian Kathy Griffin has made a sport out of getting banned from talk shows. She has famously been blacklisted by The View several times for talking about Barbara Walters and the other co-hosts in her act, and was banned by David Letterman for cursing too much on his show in the 90s. But earlier this year, Letterman lifted his ban and had Griffin on as a guest. Rather than play it safe, Griffin tried to take off her dress on the show—and wasn’t wearing underwear. 

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Gilbert Gottfried

When Gilbert Gottfried made an appearance on a rival radio show, Howard Stern banned the comedian from his program—by inviting him on to talk about it. At length. “Oh OK,” Gottfried laughed when told he was banned, “I won’t come on.” But years later, when Gottfried was fired for tweeting jokes about the Japanese tsunami, Stern came to his defense. “When the Aflac people hired him to be the duck, they knew… his humor is offensive,” Stern said on his show. “There’s no reason for him to be fired. But to be fired for offensiveness… he should never have been hired then.”

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Joan Rivers

After being named permanent guest host of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1983, Joan Rivers committed the ultimate show business sin three years later when she left start her own late-night talk show on Fox and didn’t tell Carson first.  Rivers’s new show was soon cancelled, and she never appeared on Carson’s couch again—a ban that Jay Leno has honored during the years he has hosted the show. And the comedian still feels the sting. Three years ago, during an interview with MSNBC,  Rivers called Carson a “nasty man” and a “bastard.”

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Artie Lange

In 2009, during an appearance on HBO’s Joe Buck Live, Howard Stern’s then-sidekick Artie Lange did a profanity-laced routine about Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. But the joke was soon on Lange. "He can go do as many Howard Stern shows as he likes, but he will no longer appear on HBO Sports or Joe Buck Live,” HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg told the New York Post. "We don't have any interest in his world." That same week, Lange revealed he’d also been banned from Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show. “The last time I was on, they thought I was high, and now they won't put me on until I prove I'm sober,” Lange said. "I am sober. I can't be a third guest? I mean, I'm not asking to bump George Clooney.


Bill Hicks

Bill Hicks had appeared on David Letterman’s NBC talk show 11 times when he was booked as a guest on the Late Show in 1993. But the talk show host deemed his act too outrageous—there was a mean Billy Ray Cyrus bit—and banned it from the program. Hicks never appeared on Letterman again and died several months later at 32. But in 2009, Hicks’s mother, Mary, was a guest on Late Show —Letterman apologized to her for banning the segment and finally aired the comic’s censored routine.

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Jackie Mason

In one of the most famous scandals in television history, Jackie Mason was banned from The Ed Sullivan show following an October 1964 appearance. During Mason’s stand-up set, Sullivan flashed two fingers at the comic to let him know there were two minutes remaining. In return, Mason flashed two fingers of his own, but Sullivan focused on the middle one, believing the comedian was flipping him off. Mason denied giving Sullivan the bird but was banned from the show anyway.  He soon filed a libel suit against Sullivan and won. Two years later, Sullivan apologized on the air and had Mason back as a guest. "It is a great thrill,” Mason joked, “and a fantastic opportunity to see me in person again."

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Jay Leno

After losing their 2010 death match, Conan O’Brien still wouldn’t forgive Jay Leno for taking back The Tonight Show. And when O’Brien finally landed his own program again on TBS, he was still bitter about it, vowing Leno would never be a guest on his program. “He can come as the musical guest, because that I want to see; no one knows he has an operatic range,” O’Brien joked with Playboy. “No, there are certain things I will not do, regardless of the price.”